While immigration officials continue to deny an inmate demonstration is taking place at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, women engaged in a hunger strike there claim retaliation against them is intensifying, including transfers to remote facilities and threats of deportation.

Roughly 27 women detainees began the hunger strike last week to draw attention to the conditions of their confinement and to demand their immediate release. According to Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based organization supporting the hunger strikers, protesting inmates were denied recreation time, placed in medical isolation and held in cold cells.

The organization now says six women are being “rounded up” for transfer to other facilities. Two have been transferred to the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas — over 150 miles away. The family of one of those women stated she is being held in isolation.

Some of the detainees said they were told “the two women had been deported, and they would be as well if they continued striking.”

Despite these reports and the publication of over a dozen letters written by detainees, ICE has maintained no action is taking place.

“There is no hunger strike at the Hutto facility,” ICE Communications Director Carl Rusnok told Shadowproof, denying the women had seen their evening recreation time restricted. When pressed, citing the inmate letters and first-hand reports from community groups, Rusnok said “no one at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center was identified as being on a hunger strike or refusing to eat.”

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.